Focus on Feed Efficiency

May 11, 2011 12:23 AM
 

DonaldVanHofwegenDonald Van Hofwegen
 

Stanfield, Ariz.
Donald and Ingrid Van Hofwegen milk 2,700 Holsteins in central Arizona.

 

 


*Extended comments are highlighted in blue.

Continuing increases in feed costs are really stirring up discussions on how to capitalize on higher-percentage, forage-based rations and doing more on our dairy to maximize feed efficiency. Corn and protein price increases are forcing us to try to utilize our forages better. We have been looking at different varieties of corn silage and sorghum silage.

Also, we are going to pay very close attention to how we put our piles in this year to eliminate as much shrink as possible. We are going to a rollover pile instead of a tall, narrow pile. We hope this will provide a more consistent pack over 100% of the pile.

We used to cover the pile with just plastic and tires. This year we are planning to use Silostop, which is a sort of Saran Wrap. That will go down first, then plastic and tires. We are hoping to cut our shrinkage by half. I believe that by using more local forages, I can control my costs a little better and keep everything closer to home.

I am also looking into a Feed Watch system that will allow me to manage my feeder much more closely and make changes more easily. This will eliminate errors that may occur from miscommunication, grabbing the wrong feed sheet or misreading a feed sheet.

Grouping cows and feeding the correct ration to the right group is very important. We move cows three times: from the fresh pen to the high pen, from the high pen to the mids, then from the mids to the low pre-dry pen.

We have a different ration for each group, so it is important that we keep the parameters tight when we move cows so we don’t run the risk of losing milk production. And with feed costs so high, we have to keep each group as efficient as possible.

Right now, we are getting our baled hay in, and the price is pretty strong. Ensuring it is stacked, stored and inventoried properly is a must--although I think I would be doing that even if the price weren’t so high.

Van Hofwegens' March Prices  
Milk (3.5% bf, 3.27% prt) $19.86/cwt. quota
$19.40 over quota
Cull cows $68/cwt.
Springing heifers $1,500/head
Alfalfa hay (milk cow) $235/ton
Flaked corn $315/ton
Cottonseed $285/ton contracted

 

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